Unlocking Land for Microenterprise Growth

Lead: Dr Andrew Charman and Thireshen Govender Project manager: Kayla Brown Funders: South African Breweries and South African Cities Network
The Project advances the achievements of the Foundation’s Formalising Informal Micro-Enterprises (FIME) Project.  Over five years, the FIME project has identified some of the major constraints to micro-enterprise growth, one of these constraints relates to land. Land constraints affect enterprise development in several respects. We have identified five areas where land issues have a strong impact on township economic growth and enterprise formalisation. These are:
  • Absence of land, insufficient access to land and non-availability of land for commercial development.
  • Land tenure insecurity, including the non-issue of land titles.
  • Inflexible land use schemes (zoning) and land management laws (including by-laws).
  • Poor alignment between micro-enterprise business requirements and municipal development initiatives.
  • Land market rigidity.
  • Inappropriate Spatial Development Framework (SDF) plans and Transit Oriented Development (TOD) approaches.
The Unlocking Land for Microenterprise Growth Project (ULMEG) aims to contribute towards reducing these constraints through influencing policy makers and thought leaders to reshape policies towards land use management processes in the township environment. To achieve policy shift, the UMLEG project will consolidate an evidence base on the land use problem. This will enable SLF to provide a clear set of messages around: i) why there is need for change in the township land system?, ii) how township businesses can benefit from change?, iii) what can be done (at different levels of government) to achieve short-term and long-term results? Core components: The project will produce the following outcomes:
  • A comprehensive desk-top study into the state of knowledge on land rigidities and constraints on micro-enterprises in the township context. The research has examined: i) legal frameworks, ii) institutional constraints, iii) structural obstacles, iv) market conditions, v) municipal development planning approaches and vi) constitutional issues. See our report on post-apartheid spatial inequality here.
  • A series of case study spatial studies which document land use rigidities in four sectors, i) liquor retailing, ii) street trading, iii) grocery retailing / food service and iv) early childhood development centers. The research was undertaken in Ivory Park. The research findings will be analysed in a design syndicate workshop scheduled for October whereby a high level panel of exports will provide recommendations on how to unlock the identified land obstacles and to propose strategies for municipal governments to reduce the impact of land obstacles.
  • In order to examine the potential of high-street focused development strategies, SLF undertook a study of the high street concentration of leisure economy activities in Eveline Street, Katutura, Windhoek, Namibia. The report of this study can be found here, and the preliminary impact assessment here. From a TOD perspective, the Eveline Street case study provides evidence of an organically emerging TOD outcome wherein the development of the high street has enabled enterprise densification and diversification, facilitated improvements in public space, encouraged private investment in property and synergised with public transport actors. For further reading, find the TOD report here.
  • In September and October, SLF will under a participatory action learning intervention, using digital stories, to document the actual experiences of individual micro-entrepreneurs in their efforts to respond to the land use constraints which impact on their business.
  • The project is developing a series of policy recommendations and actions at national, provincial and municipal levels. The recommendations and supporting research outputs will be presented at public exhibition events in Cape Town and Johannesburg.
Timeframe: The project commenced on the 1st February 2016 and concluded on the 1st February 2018.

Funders & Partners